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Creating the perfect CV: Mistakes to avoid

Oct 13, 2016 | Blog

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Photo Credit:

Continuing our current series on CVs, we got together to discuss the biggest hitters in terms of mistakes that we see today. Now, of course, the ‘perfect’ CV doesn’t really exist – improvements can always be made, but there are some serious mistakes we still see being made that it’s worth being aware of. It can often be difficult to see them, especially if you’ve been working on your CV for hours on end. Here are the biggest hitters we came up with.

Poor formatting

Keep it consistent! Not only should your formatting be tidy, it should be the same the whole way through. Too often we see CVs with multiple fonts simply because adequate proofing wasn’t done. That said, make sure you choose an appropriate font and stick to it. Don’t get too creative with the way your CV is presented. Yes, you want it to stand out, but not because it looks bizarre. It’s the content that counts, not the choice of line spacing. Don’t forget to take into account the various devices on which your CV might be read. Sending it as a PDF is a good way to ensure that it keeps its format across all devices.

Making it too long and too hard to skim-read 

Ideally a CV should be two pages long, though there are occasional situations when more are appropriate. It is not a case of the more you say, the better your chances are. CVs almost never get read in full. They need to be concise and super-scan-able. If you drone on and on, or write mammoth paragraphs, you run the risk of being overlooked. Remember your CV might be in a pile of 50 and if you’re number 49 to be read, you’re unlikely to get more than 4-5 seconds of a look-in. There is no merit to making your CV longer than the norm.

Messy or illogical layout

The layout of your CV should be considered carefully. For example, contact details should not be lumped in anywhere in the main text or left at the bottom. Think about where you would want this extremely important information to be – at the top, right? Further to this, make sure your paragraphs don’t cover a wealth of information. We often see too much lumped into each paragraph in an effort to get everything into the CV. All this does is make it difficult to read and even more difficult to remember. Using bullet points can help to squeeze in any information that doesn’t fit elsewhere but make sure they do belong where you put them.

Ignoring gaps

Address gaps in your CV, even if briefly. There should be no time periods unaccounted for.

Flowery language

It can be tempting to bolster your CV by adding some wonderfully descriptive language into the mix. This is not going to do much for you. Your CV, as mentioned, needs to be concise, to the point and really easy to read quickly. Throwing in a host of adjectives and adverbs will only hinder this. That’s not to say you can’t use any descriptive language to make a point – just be frugal with it and use it to make a highly relevant point stand out.

Unprovable claims

Everything needs to be backed up. Don’t put anything in your CV that you can’t immediately back up in the following sentence.

 Too many keywords

In this day and age of the online CV, keywords are, well…key. However, be careful with how many you use and where place them. Don’t stuff as many as possible into your CV as you can – that becomes very obvious. Instead, choose a select few, about 4-5 is fine, and use them completely seamlessly in your layout, making sure your biggest hitter is right up at the top.

Creating a winning CV takes a lot of effort and it can be all too easy to overlook certain aspect that are damaging your chances of landing an interview. Never spend hours on end hammering away at your CV – take breaks and come back to it periodically in order to have fresh eyes and a fresh look.




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